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37 | Former WNBA Player and Ph.D. Candidate ShaRae Mansfield: Coping with Chronic Pain

The Injured Athletes Club

Release Date: 03/11/2021

84 | Carrie Answers a Question: Conveying Her Own Challenges show art 84 | Carrie Answers a Question: Conveying Her Own Challenges

The Injured Athletes Club

“It's been really interesting, this journey with the left shoulder, because I think finally, one of the things I've come to realize is that maybe I've been a little too patient with the process, sort of comparing it to the right shoulder. With my right shoulder injury, it was a different injury, and there were different things going on. And I knew it was going to be a minimum of a year of PT and that I really had to commit and dive in and trust that it was going to be a long recovery, but that it would pay off and it would work out and it did. And so I took that same approach with the left...

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83 | Acrobat and Circus Artist Shelli Epstein: Expanding Your Identity show art 83 | Acrobat and Circus Artist Shelli Epstein: Expanding Your Identity

The Injured Athletes Club

“I’m walking again, I look like a normal person, I feel very able. But internally, the struggle is, I am not where I used to be. I cannot do the things I love. I cannot run. I cannot jump. So, I still feel the injury is a cloud hanging over me, and I've still got a long way to go. It's an interesting feeling and mental battle that I have with myself on a daily basis.”   It was January 2022, and Shelli Epstein was poised to make a big comeback. After an injury and then the pandemic, she was overjoyed to as Running Woman in Cirque du Soleil’s touring show . Icing on the cake: The...

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82 | Carrie Answers a Question: Cindy’s Concerns show art 82 | Carrie Answers a Question: Cindy’s Concerns

The Injured Athletes Club

“What's the best way to remain confident and advocate for yourself when the medical system doesn't seem to be working for you? Recovering from this stress fracture, I've had a number of instances of having to push back. First there was the surgeon I went to for a second opinion who told me I didn't need surgery—but that my body was trying to tell me "something," namely that I'm not a gazelle and I should probably stop running long distances. Then there was the primary care doc who said she couldn't order thyroid tests, instead shaming me for not making an appointment with the specialist...

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81 | Runner Pippa Woolven: Recovery from RED-S show art 81 | Runner Pippa Woolven: Recovery from RED-S

The Injured Athletes Club

“I think first of all, it is so easy to dismiss this diagnosis and think there must be something else the matter, because the symptoms are so extreme and it is hard to believe that it can be something as simple and as basic as an energy imbalance. But it really can. And until I was brave enough to get really honest with myself and almost reach a point where I had to admit that there was an energy imbalance there, it was hard to buy into it.’”   British runner Pippa Woolven was 19 and running collegiately when her once-promising athletic career took a turn. She began developing a...

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80 | Carrie Answers a Question: Surviving Setbacks show art 80 | Carrie Answers a Question: Surviving Setbacks

The Injured Athletes Club

“I want to know how to deal with the ups and downs, feeling good then having a setback over and over and over. In the beginning it’s easier to know it won’t last, but when it keeps happening it gets harder to get through it. Also how to be more patient.” —Kaili   “I am struggling with the fact that I have been dealing with a stress fracture since January from a car accident, have followed all my doc's advice, and just had a setback again. So why, if I keep following the rules, AND my latest MRI shows the stress fracture is mostly gone, am I still having setbacks? There will be...

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79 | Pro Triathlete Sika Henry: The Power of Representation show art 79 | Pro Triathlete Sika Henry: The Power of Representation

The Injured Athletes Club

"At first it was a bit difficult, talking about it and reliving it, but now I see how powerful that can be. You wouldn't believe how many stories I hear. I swear every time somebody crashes really bad on their bike, they reach out to me. It’s incredible—I don't think people realize that about themselves when they reach out, but literally they will be in the hospital messaging me, ‘How did you get through this? How quickly did you come back?’ I say, ‘if you’re already thinking about it, that right there goes to show how strong you are. If you want to come back, you will once you're...

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78 | Carrie Answers a Question: A Collective Confidence Boost show art 78 | Carrie Answers a Question: A Collective Confidence Boost

The Injured Athletes Club

“I’m continuing to struggle months after my stress fracture is ‘healed’ with new pain areas and fearing it is a recurrence of the original injury. How do I mentally get over that hurdle?” —Liisa   “I’m currently in transition from return to function towards return to play and every little flare gives me the jitters, if you happen to have any input on navigating. 🙏” —Sarah   “I think fear of reinjury is big too. Like, I don’t even know if I want to try getting back to running and surfing—or if that’s just fear—so help on thinking through those tough...

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77 | Quarterback Vad Lee: Purpose Over Position show art 77 | Quarterback Vad Lee: Purpose Over Position

The Injured Athletes Club

“That experience helped me to realize to cherish every relationship, to cherish your responsibilities, to cherish your opportunity when you have it, because it's not guaranteed tomorrow. You can be the hardest-working player, you can do things right,  you can be a great person and all of those things—that does not guarantee that you will finish the way that you wrote your story or the way that you want it, desire it to finish.”   fell in love with football at a young age. He thought he knew how his life would pan out—winning the national championship, getting drafted into...

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76 | Carrie Answers a Question: Gavin’s Glitch show art 76 | Carrie Answers a Question: Gavin’s Glitch

The Injured Athletes Club

“While I am not a professional athlete, I am a chef who has gone from 1 hour intense daily workouts and working 10 to 14 hours a day to doing nothing. Exactly one month ago today I fully tore my pectoral major off my humerus while bench pressing. I am itching to finally have my surgery completed this upcoming Monday.    I'm hoping you can provide me with some insight and guidance. Everyday I find myself in a battle with my monster and athlete. I know what I have to do to control my monster, but it is really exhausting having continuous arguments between the two. It feels like...

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75 | Another Mother Runner’s Dimity McDowell: Adventures Ahead show art 75 | Another Mother Runner’s Dimity McDowell: Adventures Ahead

The Injured Athletes Club

“The greater lesson of this is that I've helped open the door—a lot of people have opened the door—to talk about what running on the other side looks like, or not running, what the other side of that looks like. You can still have a creative, active, badass life without pounding on your body, if that doesn't work for you anymore.”   has been a runner for years. She’s also the author of many books about running; a sports and fitness writer who’s written for running publications; and the co-founder of the positive, thriving community   But the last time she ran a step was...

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“It was like being a part of a book and finally figuring out the cause of all the pain, the cause of the injuries. Everything started coming together. Just thinking back, I had to ask myself, how in the world did I continue to play?”

 

ShaRae Mansfield was a superstar on the court during her four years at Western Kentucky University. In 2001, she was a third-round draft pick for the WNBA’s Houston Comets.

 

All this success came despite the fact that ShaRae was in near-constant pain. By the time she graduated, she’d had six surgeries on her ACL. She loved the game, but her injuries eventually cut her career short, a development that sent her into what she calls a “basketball depression.”

 

Unsure of what to do next, she went back to finish her degree, then sought help from a psychologist. Little by little, she began to grasp the ways in which losing her athletic identity impacted her, and to work through it. Then—a decade later—a surprising medical diagnosis helped her comprehend all that had happened in her body.

 

Out of all this pain and challenge came a fierce determination to help others in similar situations. She’s now an advocate for people with chronic conditions (and leader of the Beautiful Warriors support group). And, as a Ph.D. candidate in psychology, ShaRae is studying the difficult transition period out of sports—aiming to smooth the path forward for the next generation of retiring athletes.

 

A huge thank you to our sponsors for this episode: Fluid Running and 2Toms. Fluid Running makes it possible to maintain your peak physical fitness even when you're injured through the power of deep water running. And 2Toms provides advanced sweat proof, waterproof blister and chafing protection products that keep you moving. Listen for special discount codes in the episode!

 

In this episode, we discuss:

  • How injuries are viewed in basketball—and the struggle not to see them as weaknesses (6:40)
  • Her earliest experiences with injury and pain, and some of the red flags that popped up as early as elementary school (11:19)
  • The biggest regret she has about her collegiate career (13:53)
  • The huge high of being drafted into the WNBA, and why it was tempered by a feeling of uncertainty (19:15)
  • The “soul-crushing” news that came after that (21:51)
  • The challenges she faced when her career was truly over (30:48)
  • The big revelation, a decade later, that finally explained her extensive injury history (36:58)
  • What it felt like when she finally was able to move without pain (43:56)
  • What she’s studying now, and how she hopes to help other athletes (54:34)

 

You can subscribe to The Injured Athletes Club on Spotify, Stitcher, Apple Podcasts, or wherever you get your podcasts, and if you like what you hear, please leave us a rating or a review in Apple podcasts. That helps other injured athletes find the show.

 

Resources/links:

  • ShaRae’s Beautiful Warriors support group for people with chronic conditions
  • More of her story on the Arthritis Foundation website



To access more resources for injured athletes:

  • Join The Injured Athletes Club mailing list, for news and updates
  • Join The Injured Athletes Club Facebook group, for support and camaraderie
  • Like The Injured Athletes Club Podcast Facebook page, for the latest episodes
  • Email us at [email protected] with questions, guest suggestions, or other feedback

 

DISCLAIMER: This content is for educational & informational use only and & does not constitute medical advice. Do not disregard, avoid or delay obtaining medical or health related advice from your health-care professional because of something you may have heard in an episode of this podcast. You should not rely on this information as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult with a qualified medical professional for proper evaluation & treatment. Guests who speak on this podcast express their own opinions, experiences, and conclusions, and The Injured Athletes Club podcast hosts nor any company providing financial support endorses or opposes any particular treatment option discussed in the episodes of this podcast and are not responsible for any actions or inactions of listeners based on the information presented. The use of any information provided is solely at your own risk.